The Secret Files»
UFOs in History»
Wednesday the 23rd of January 1974 was just another day in Bala and the nearby villages of Corwen, Llandrillo and Llanderfel. UFOs were the last thing on the villagers’ minds as Britain huddled in the depths of winter and the recently introduced three day week. But as night closed in an event took place which was to change all that.
Just after 8.30pm thousands of people in the area were jolted from their winter musings by at least one, possibly two, explosions, followed immediately by a terrible rumbling. The whole event lasted four or five seconds. Furniture moved, ornaments rattled, buildings shook. Livestock and domestic animals voiced their terror. As people shot to their windows some saw lights streaking across the sky. Villagers flooded out into the streets in an attempt to discover the cause of the violent disturbance. As they looked up into the mountains several saw a mysterious white glow, lasting a few seconds. Others saw beams of light being projected into the night sky.
Many villagers immediately called the emergency services believing that a disaster of some kind had taken place. After speaking to the police one local nurse was certain that an aircraft had crashed and set off for the mountains in her car, dreading what she might find there, but eager to offer help until the emergency services arrived. Once above the tree line and on the high mountain road she stopped her car, baffled and startled at what she could see. For there, high on the desolate mountain side, was what appeared to be a large glowing sphere. Whatever it was lay too far from the road to be reached on foot and all the nurse could do was watch. The sphere seemed to pulsate, changing colour as it did so from red to yellow to white, while other white lights, ‘fairy lights’ as the witness described them, could be seen above and below it on the hillside. Realising she could not possibly reach the lights she drove back to her village. As she did so a group of police and soldiers stopped her and forcefully ordered her off the mountain, saying the road was being cordoned off.
Official reaction was quick to the initial explosion. Suspiciously quick some say, with more police and military arriving within minutes, turning people away from the mountain roads. In the days following it seems there was an unusual and large military presence in the area. Roads remained closed and farmers reported they were forbidden from tending their stock. Something was obviously being sought, or why would military jets and helicopters be criss-crossing the area and strangers combing the mountainsides? Scientists from university departments also came to tramp the hills, but far more suspicious were the official-looking outsiders who turned up in the villages immediately after the event, tight-lipped about their business but keenly interested in the events on the mountain.
The incident was immediately taken seriously by the media, with national TV and radio reports being broadcast over several days. The Guardian, The Times and other national newspapers gave the event in-depth coverage as did the Welsh regional and local press.
Speculation about the cause of the explosion, rumbling and lights was rife. An aircraft crash would have accounted for the noise, lights and keen official involvement. Indeed one local newspaper was certain that whatever had taken place involved a crash of some kind and that something had been retrieved from the mountains, noting, ‘There is a report that an Army vehicle was seen coming down the mountain near Bala Lake with a large square box on the back of it and accompanied by outriders.’
But the authorities steadfastly refused to acknowledge that anything unusual had taken place. And in any case, not one of the ‘explanations’ took into account the totality of what had been reported by witnesses. Meteorites and earth tremors were also suggested as being the cause, and indeed would have explained some of the mystery. But what could possibly explain the ‘glows’ and ‘beams of light’ seen on the mountain? They were swiftly dismissed as the villagers’ imaginations, shooting stars, or more ludicrously as people out poaching hares. Natural phenomena was also unlikely to lead to roads being closed by the army or large areas of mountain side being closed off.
With no further information coming to light the media soon forgot about the incident. The locals too let the matter fade from their immediate concern if not entirely from their memories. UFO researchers realised that something had taken place which had not been satisfactorily explained. Lights in the sky, and mysterious explosions, together with unusual military activity are avidly noted by the UFO community. However, in 1974 UFO crash retrievals were barely mentioned in the UFO literature, especially in the UK, and there was no immediate template for the events in the Berwyn’s to fit into. Various UFO journals reported the events at the time but no investigation was undertaken and no real conclusions were offered.
But shadowy forces appeared to be at work. Within months of the event UFO investigators in the north of England began to receive official-looking documents from a group called Aerial Phenomena Enquiry Network (APEN). These documents claimed that an extraterrestrial craft had come down on the Berwyns and was retrieved for study by an APEN crash retrieval team which had been on the scene within hours of the event. More significantly APEN claimed there had been a key witness to the UFO crash who they were recommending for hypnotic regression. Hypnotic regression was at that time virtually unknown in the UK UFO community. In fact besides having being used in the 1961 Betty and Barney Hill ‘abduction’, hypnosis was not used within ufology at that time.
If APEN were hoaxers then they displayed an uncanny and detailed knowledge of both ufology in general and the Berwyn Mountain incident in particular. Some researchers have speculated that APEN may have been part of a government cover up, using UFO mythology to spread disinformation and so divert attention from secret weapons testing. APEN also issued similar enigmatic communications in conjunction with other UFO events, notably the Rendlesham Forest case.»